Plan A had been to move T. into our home once he was free for adoption. Plan B was a bit unorthodox for DHHS. The idea was to move him out of one foster family and into another. T. was in a good home getting great care. When we met him, he was bright-eyed and vibrant. He didn’t look sick; he just looked like someone half his age (and twice as cute). He had been living with C. for more than a year. He was getting better. He was thriving.
Plan B seemed counter-intuitive: Take a kid out of a stable home and put him with a couple who had never raised a child, never mind a child with a disability. The rationale was that the move was inevitable; we were just getting a head start. The relevant supervisors signed off and we agreed the transition should be quick. A couple visits at his house. An overnight or weekend at ours. Another visit and then the move.
C. waved to us from the deck a dozen or so feet above the driveway and motioned toward the wooden stairs. We pushed back the plastic fence intended to keep intact the neck of a little boy careening his plastic Flintstone-style foot-powered car. He bounced off walls and railings and around a course of obstacles that included T. pushing a plastic walker.
C. didn’t seem so much unconcerned as oblivious, which in turn, made me nervous. The other boy had a frenetic energy. He would stop his car, dive toward a tiny jungle gym, scramble to the top, leap over the slide and crash onto the deck. T., ever in pursuit, would arrive at the bottom of the slide and begin to make us way up as the older boy prepared for another leap over it.
C. would be talking. I would be doing my best to listen. I kept interrupting.
“Should he be doing that?”
“Are they both supposed to be in there?”
“The fence by the stairs fell over, again.”
C. was breezy. I felt a sense of imminent doom. I know my wife was there but I have absolutely no recollection of interacting with her during the first half-hour of that visit.
(At the next visit there was a third boy. The four of us guys were out on the deck. T. and I were playing when I noticed that car bearing down on us. I popped up and closed the distance with my leg, planting it like a bollard. Only then did I notice the kid who had been hanging to the roof like TJ Hooker a split second before and was now flying through the air. He got up and ran in the house, crying. As the lone verbal witness I followed and explained what happened. Some details may have been abridged. C. gave the boy a once over, said, “You’re OK,” and shooed him back out the door.)
Over the next few months we would learn a lot from C. She has been raising kids for a long time – T. was her 39th foster child. I was wrong about her. She knows what she’s doing.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
It’ll drive you crazy.